The Left’s Dark Money Scheme to Transform Michigan
Michigan has undergone a dramatic transformation in the past five years, thanks to a series of electoral reforms. But this isn’t the result of a Trump-induced hangover or the popularity of Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Instead, it’s part of a nationwide conspiracy by a vast network of leftist dark money groups using “nonpartisan” proxy organizations and the ballot initiative loophole to circumvent the political process.
These reforms are part of a nationwide conspiracy concocted by a vast network of leftist dark money using “nonpartisan” proxy organizations and the ballot initiative loophole to circumvent the ordinary political process.
The Puppet Master: Voters Not Politicians
At the center of this scheme in Michigan is a little-known “nonpartisan advocacy organization” called Voters Not Politicians (VNP). While it claims to have started as a grassroots movement led by a recycling activist, the details surrounding the organization are much shadier.
Nancy Wang, the current executive director and a former law professor at the University of Michigan, is listed as a co-founder. Meanwhile, its supposed nonpartisanship had been called into question as early as 2017, when seven of its 10 board members were revealed to have donated to Democratic politicians in the past.
Even more revealing is VNP’s finances. During the 2018 election cycle, it received over $16 million, with the vast majority coming from out-of-state, liberal dark money groups. Two-thirds of that funding came from only two organizations: Sixteen Thirty Fund and Action Now Initiative, both of which are connected to the Arabella Network of nonprofits.
The Arabella Network: A Liberal Dark Money Behemoth
The Arabella Network is a conglomerate of affiliated advocacy non-profits with a combined war chest of over $1.6 billion. It is managed by Arabella Advisors, a D.C.-based philanthropic consulting company that advises big-money liberal donors. The company was founded by Eric Kessler, a former Clinton administration official and national field director for the League of Conservation Voters. He also served as the president and chair of Sixteen Thirty.
Unsurprisingly, VNP’s efforts have only served to promote a leftist agenda. In 2018, VNP orchestrated Michigan’s successful adoption of an independent redistricting commission through the ballot initiative process. The commission’s fatal flaw is that the random citizens appointed to the commission lacked both extensive political and legal knowledge or proficiency in geographical information systems. This resulted in a cadre of legal, technical, and academic experts exercising an inordinate influence over the commission’s decisions.
Following this performance, in 2022, VNP donated $1.7 million to Promote the Vote, which managed another successful ballot initiative cementing several electoral reforms into the Michigan Constitution. Promote the Vote also received $10 million from the Sixteen Thirty Fund. The initiative constitutionalized early and absentee voting, mandated state-funded ballot drop boxes, and permitted the private takeover of election operations.
The Takeover of Election Administration
Since 2020, left-wing groups have vastly expanded their efforts to use private donations to influence and run elections. These organizations, staffed by progressive activists that include former Democratic Party advocates, organized labor adherents, and community organizers, have been handed over the functions managing our elections traditionally handled by local governments. In effect, these takeovers amount to government-sponsored get-out-the-vote drives for the Democratic base.
Many of these organizations are connected to the Arabella Network of nonprofits, which spent a combined $1.6 billion. The left’s interest in promoting absentee voting and drop boxes and their connection with ballot harvesting is by now well documented. But more troubling is the initiative’s permanent establishment of private funding for election administration.
The left’s dark money scheme in Michigan is just one example of how they are using nonpartisan proxy organizations and the ballot initiative loophole to circumvent the political process and push their agenda. It’s time to shine a light on these shadowy groups and hold them accountable for their actions.
The Left’s Nonpartisan Strategy to Destroy Constitutional Order
The left’s strategy to destroy the constitutional order is becoming more sophisticated. The latest example is the “nonpartisan” group, Voters Not Politicians (VNP), which is using dark money to achieve its goals in Michigan. VNP’s strategy is to use ballot initiatives to achieve substantial electoral reforms that would otherwise be impossible through the ordinary legislative process.
The strategy of big liberal dark money in propping up VNP in Michigan is obvious: Destroy the viability of GOP candidates and resecure the state’s position in the “blue wall.”
VNP’s ultimate goal is to make sure no opposing organization can reverse its efforts by replicating its strategy. Once it’s ensured that Michigan will stay blue, VNP wants to achieve campaign finance reform to end “the power and influence of special interest groups with hidden agendas.”
The Influence of Dark Money
The influence of dark money in politics is not new. In 2020, the left-wing Center for Tech and Civic Life received over $400 million from Mark Zuckerberg and his wife. The significant boost these efforts gave to Democrats during the 2020 election was recently outlined by The Caesar Rodney Election Research Institute.
Conservatives need to be aware that every election cycle they are fighting and losing major battles in the ballot box that have nothing to do with who holds what office. VNP’s success in Michigan is a stark warning of how the left is finding new ways to destroy whatever remains of our constitutional order. It is a strategy that can, is, and will be replicated nationwide. Welcome to the age of “nonpartisan” politics.
The Left’s Next Logical Step
VNP’s “next logical step” in its “pro-democracy movement” is to deploy money and influence to strongarm the state legislature into joining the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, securing Michigan’s 16 electoral votes for Democratic nominees and preventing the prospect of another 2016-like surprise.
The Model Exists Across the Country
While this particular fifth column is confined to Michigan, its model exists across the country. There is currently a vast network of liberal dark money that will continue to use ballot initiatives peddled by “local nonpartisan organizations” to pay their way into achieving substantial electoral reforms.
The left’s nonpartisan strategy to destroy the constitutional order is a serious threat to our democracy. Conservatives need to be aware of the influence of dark money and the tactics being used to achieve electoral reforms. It’s time to fight back and protect our constitutional order.
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